Oyuki, a Niseko-based outfitter most famous for its Japow-inspired gloves and mitts, collaborated with optics and helmet heavyweight Smith on a capsule of limited-edition gear this winter.
The collaboration centers around Smith’s new helmet (the lightweight Method), the cylindrical Squad MAG Goggle, and Oyuki’s irreverent Shaka Mitts. Oyuki and Smith also made sure to include a balaclava in the lineup (a midweight iteration with GORE-TEX Infinium).
Each piece of gear shares the same stellar art — snowy, Niseko landscapes and detailed depictions of “yōkai,” supernatural spirits and monsters central to Japanese folklore, painted by muralist Mike Shankster.
As a professional gear tester, I do my best to approach each assignment objectively, but I’ve got to be honest. It was impossible not to nerd out on this collab. Oyuki makes some of my favorite gloves — the Pep Fujas pro model, in particular, is a flawless, downright sexy trigger mitt that perfectly marries form and function.
And, of course, Smith makes some pretty popular goggles. The Japanese yōkai touch cranked my stoke levels to 11.
Needless to say, I had high hopes for this collaboration, and the gear exceeded my expectations. Why? I had the opportunity to test the full collection during a powder-blessed trip to Oyuki’s Hokkaido hometown, being the first outside of the Oyuki and Smith brand to get my hands on the limited-edition drop. High stoke, but also, high stakes when it comes to testing.
In short: Out of the whole collection, my focus was on the helmet and goggles in testing, as well as the functionality and durability of each piece of gear. This collection is far from just about style — it’s got to perform like any other top gear from each brand. After Hokkaido, I continued testing upon my return home to Lake Tahoe, during a series of storms that resulted in some of the deepest, best days of riding of my life. Oyuki in particular bills its gear as built for pow — “oyuki” actually translates to “big snow” in Japanese — and I definitely scored the conditions this gear is intended for. Below, I’ll break down my thoughts on the gear in the collab, but if you’re pressed for time, I’ve got three words for you: snag the lot.
Oyuki x Smith Collaboration Gear Review
- Materials In-mold construction, polycarbonate shell, EPS foam, zonal KOROYD, MIPS
- Certification CE EN 1077
- Audio compatible Yes
- Removable earpads Yes
- Removable goggle strap lock Yes
- Weight 19 oz. (size medium)
- Resort and backcountry ready
- Compatible with a variety of goggles
- Very affordable
- Comes in 4 sizes
- Not the best ventilation
- No dial for size adjustment
The first thing you’ll notice when you peep the Smith X Oyuki Method MIPS Helmet is the two-tone, matte yōkai art wrapping the helmet. While I dig the more flamboyant, brighter art on the Squad MAG goggle strap and Shaka Mitts, I’m glad the designers went with a more muted pattern on the helmet — it increases the versatility if you want to rock it with more subtle goggles while still looking fresh.
A Helmet Surprisingly Ready for Backcountry Missions
Art aside, the Smith Method is lightweight, fairly priced, and capable in both resort and backcountry scenarios.
Smith keeps weight low by using an in-mold construction, a popular construction technique that melds the shell and foam liner together. Smith also equipped the Method with Koroyd. This tech is rows of lightweight, hollow, strong plastic cylinders that crumple in the event of an impact.
An additional benefit of the Koroyd? They help with ventilation, which is appreciated, as the Method only has eight fixed vents (compared to, say, the ever-popular Smith Vantage, which has 21 adjustable vents).
The Method was so light, I almost forgot I was wearing it in-bounds. I decided to use it on many backcountry days, too, hiking roadside pillows in Hokkaido and embarking on longer tours at home. It’s not well-ventilated enough that you’ll want to wear it while touring (nor is it certified for rock fall), but it’s hardly noticeable if you toss it in your backcountry pack’s helmet-carrying system.
When I compared the weight of the Method to my go-to backcountry helmet, the Giro Grid, it turned out that both helmets weigh in at 400g for a size medium. The Grid is certainly better ventilated, and the vents are adjustable compared to the Method’s fixed vents, but it’s also nearly twice the price. If you’re a skier or snowboarder looking for a lightweight, affordable helmet that you’ll love in bounds and out, the Method could be a smart choice.
Smith Method Features & Fit
While the eight fixed vents aren’t particularly ground-breaking, the Method features Smith’s AirEvac vents above the eyebrows, which help jettison warm air from the goggles and keep your lenses from fogging up. Additional features include a removable goggle clip and warm and comfortable (and removable) audio-compatible ear pads. Beyond that, features are quite minimal, which helps keep both cost and weight low.
If you’re used to a BOA-style dial, Smith’s “self-adjusting fit system” can take some getting used to. Essentially, there’s a pair of stretchy bands along the back of the helmet, fixed to a plastic harness that cradles the back of the head. The plastic harness has arms that snap into holes in the helmet’s foam liner, which is how you set sizing. The pros of this system are that there’s no fiddling with dials; you set the sizing once, then throw on the helmet and go.
However, if you like a tight fit, or you ride with a beanie one day and nothing the next, you may miss one-handed dial systems. An important note on fit, too: I like an extra snug helmet fit, and when I was riding with a balaclava, the fit was perfect for me. But if I ditched the balaclava, there was more wiggle room than I’d like.
MIPS and Safety
Discussing helmet safety is always tricky. I don’t have the healthcare necessary to test helmets like a crash dummy. And after more concussions than I care to count, I try to bonk my noggin as little as possible on the slopes. However, my perception of the Method is that it’s a solid, middle-of-the-park performer.
First off, it’s available with MIPS, which I always opt for. MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) is the friction-free plastic layer that allows the helmet to rotate independently from the head, reducing potentially catastrophic rotational forces in the event of a crash. Additionally, the use of the Koroyd tech earns more safety points.
Sometimes, lighter, skimpier helmets aren’t as confidence-inspiring as a more beefy and substantial cranial bucket, but I felt solid in the Method and sent some of the bigger drops of my winter in this helmet.
Goggle Compatibility: Near-Universal
One of the biggest draws of the Method’s flat brim style is its near-universal goggle compatibility. The Method works super well with the Smith Squad MAG, but I also tested it with XL Oakleys, frameless Giro Contours, and more options from other brands. That said, it works best with goggles with a flatter brow.
In short: The Oyuki-collab artwork makes this Smith helmet really stand out. Minimalist, lightweight, and versatile, it’s a solid pick for any snowboarder or skier who wants one helmet that can handle both resort riding and backcountry days — all without breaking the bank. The Smith Method MIPS helmet is one to watch for this year.
- Style Cylindrical
- Fit Medium/large
- Lens Everyday red mirror, low-light storm rose
- Lens system Magnetic, locking lever
- Weight 5 oz.
- Price $250
- Classic cylindrical style
- Excellent peripherals and optics
- Solid venting
- Secure lens interchangeability system
- Frame can be on the big side for some folks
- Higher price point
- Only one lens color choice for the collab
Even more so than the helmet, the first thing you notice with this Smith x Oyuki Squad MAG is the artwork. The colorful yōkai characters stand out against the white strap, which in turn pops against the black and gray of the Method Helmet.
There’s also a leather patch stamped with both brands’ logos and the iconic Mt. Yotei, the volcano that rises high above Niseko and calls to powderhounds like sirens singing to sailors. If you’re into subtlety, look elsewhere. Otherwise, this strap earns the Squad serious style points.
Goggle Visibility and Clarity
In my opinion, Smith’s ChromaPop wavelength-filtering lenses produce clarity and contrast that’s on par with the best goggles in the game. The Smith x Oyuki Squad MAG goggle comes with two ChromaPop lenses: the everyday Red Mirror lens for sunny days, and a Storm Rose Flash lens for stormy days.
On semi-rare bluebird days in Japan and Tahoe this winter, I was stoked to be rocking the red lens. It offered crisp, clear optics, and the reflective tint helped mitigate glare. But I ended up using the storm lens quite a bit more — last winter was a whirlwind of pow — and it delivered top-notch contrast while navigating pillow lines and glades in graybird and blizzard conditions.
Thanks largely to the lenses, the Squad MAGs are among the best cylindrical goggles I’ve used. There’s minimal optical distortion, and the peripherals are fantastic, namely because of the sheer surface area of the large lenses. If you swear by cylindricals, you’ll be stoked on these lenses.
Lens Tech, Fit, and Helmet Compatibility
Anon’s magnetic goggle system is, in my eyes, the gold standard of lens interchangeability systems. It’s fast, easy, and fairly secure. However, I do have an older pair of Anons, and a couple of the magnets recently popped out of the lenses, making the connection less solid than preferred. That’s where Smith’s MAG system has the advantage.
The Squad MAG sports two plastic locking mechanisms on the sides of the goggles. You disengage the levers, and then you can pull the magnetic lens off of the frame. It’s definitely slower than Anon’s system and has more moving parts, but it’s still quick, and it’s definitely more secure. Plus, if magnets ever pop loose over time, the MAG system lock suggest the goggle will still work reasonably well.
As I mentioned in the helmet review above, the Squad MAG pairs exceptionally well with the Method helmet. I have a medium-size face, and the medium-to-large-size goggle never felt like it was too big for me, nor did I ever crave better peripherals. Lastly, thanks to the cushy triple-layer face foam, I was able to comfortably rock this goggle from bell to bell, day after day.
In short: If you’re a fan of Smith goggles already, these large cylindrical lenses with great clarity and secure lens interchangeability, probably have your name on them — especially if you don’t mind investing a bit more money for excellent field of view, clarity, and ventilation. But if you have a small or smaller-size face, we gotta be honest — the Squad MAG may or may not be a fit.
- Cheeky, unique mitt style encourages throwing shakas
- Surprisingly functional dexterity
- Mid-weight insulation is warm enough for most days on the hill
- Chairlift conversation starter and fun
- Not as warm as regular mitts
- Not as dextrous as gloves or trigger mitts
A Trigger Mitt in Reverse
Everybody loves a trigger mitt. This glove-meets-mitt hybrid frees up the index finger for better dexterity, and houses the remaining fingers in a mitten-like pocket. But have you ever seen a Shaka mitt? It frees up the pinky instead, allowing you to, well, throw shakas. It’s just like a trigger mitt, but way less practical, and way more fun.
Thanks to the orange leather insert on one mitt and the illustrated yōkai embellishments on both mitts, the Oyuki x Smith Shaka GORE-TEX Mittens are as loud as can be — and I mean that as a compliment. They’re a fun chairlift conversation starter, no doubt.
Between the waterproof GORE-TEX membrane, water-resistant goatskin leather, and PrimaLoft insulation (133 g in the backhand and 80 g in the palm), the Shaka is warm enough for most winter days, and worked great in dry to wet conditions. However, when the mercury dropped toward and below zero, my pinky did get chilly.
It is surprising how much more mobility and functionality you have with the Shaka’s free pinky compared to a standard mitten. (Of course, it’s still less functional than a pair of gloves.) The free pinky did come in handy when fiddling with pesky zippers, tightening splitboard hardware, or wrangling snacks on the chairlift.
I spent probably 20 days riding with these last season, and aside from their occasional functionality, throwing the shaka and watching friends’ confusion turn to laughter never got old.
In short: If you like to pretend you’re surfing a white wave on a powder day, this will become your favorite pair of mitts. And did I mention the mitts come with a pair of chopsticks? That’s worth a double shaka, if you ask me.
Oyuki and Smith Gear: Conclusion
Over the last few years, I’ve watched Oyuki transform from a relatively boutique Japanese brand into a ski town staple. Throughout that journey, the brand hasn’t lost its Hokkaido soul, nor its diehard dedication to high-performance, powder-primed gear — a fact evident by this collab with Smith. Collaborations like these are about uniqueness on top of (not instead of) highly technical performance.
These two brands go together like gas station sushi and roadside pillow lines, overworked legs and onsens, slurpable ramen and frosty Sapporo. That is to say, they pair together perfectly.
No doubt, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more Oyuki gear and collabs in the future. And I can’t wait to put more gear to the test in Japan and in the conditions it was built for … hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for it to snow.